10 Things You Need To Know About Building Muscle
Feeling like you have hit a plateau while trying to build muscle? You’re not alone. It’s common for a lot of people to hit a plateau after years of training and feel stuck. Thankfully there are a ton of resources online nowadays (some better than others of course)!
So being the good citizens that we are, we have put together a list of the top 10 things you need to know about building muscle.
1. Training too long is overkill
There is no need to be in the gym for 2 to 3 hours beating a dead horse. Don’t you have places to go, people to see, and things to do? After training for 45 min to 1 hour you will continue to rapidly drop your blood sugar, which in turn can lead to sugary cravings to bounce your blood sugar back up.
Not to mention the increase in cortisol (the stress hormone), which leads to muscle breakdown and weight gain.
2. Natural growth takes time!
You have to — I repeat, you have to stop comparing your gains to someone who is/may be on steroids or other growth drugs. You are only going to get yourself down, and lower your drive to keep working.
The truth is, it will take you years of dedication and hard work naturally to see the same amount of muscle gain as someone on steroids for a few months.
Keep pushing, stick to your values and never settle.
3. No meal plan = no results
This goes back to “beating the dead horse”. The bottom line is you can train as hardcore as possible, but if your diet is not in check you will not see any legitimate gains. There is no way around this.
You need to sit down and figure out your meal plan based on your goals and stick to it!
4. You don’t have to have small meals every few hours
One of the biggest myths in the fitness industry is that you must “graze” with 6–7 small meals throughout the day. This isn’t to say that this method won’t work, but it’s not the only way. What can’t be argued is that you need to get the proper total number of calories with a proper breakdown of protein, carbs and fats.
If you can accomplish this with 3 big meals a day and some snacks then go for it!
5. “Bro-splits” are not the most ideal way to make gains
Monday: chest + tris, Tuesday: back+ bis — you’ve heard of the splits.Working out this way can be limiting your gains, because you’re usually only working each body part once a week. Your muscles only need 36 hours to heal and they are ready to go again, so switch up your splits to push/pull/legs and allow yourself to take advantage of the opportunity for double work each week!
6. You don’t need hours of cardio to get lean
Gone are the days of being bored for 90 minutes of steady state cardio. HIIT has become a super popular cardio method within the fitness industry, and its results tell you why. You can do 30–45 min of HIIT to get the same results of steady state cardio, plus you will be working on fast twitch muscle fibres. HIIT has been shown to be the most effective way of staying lean while still trying to make gains.
7. Compound movements are IMPORTANT
If you’re serious about lifting and making muscle gains, you NEED TO have the bench press, squats, and deadlift incorporated into your training program. These movements allow you to hit multiple muscle groups at the same time, which in turn makes your workouts more efficient, and helps you avoid #1 on this list.
8. Not using full ROM is a waste
Many people believe going half way on squats and bench press is the correct way to lift. Unfortunately when you do this you are creating muscle imbalances and weaknesses around the joints you are trying to “protect”. Of course, the exercise needs to be completed properly to avoid injury, but if you are lifting properly your best bet is to go with full ROM.
9. De-load weeks are necessary
Being a young gun with unlimited energy and high levels of testosterone can make it hard to see the importance of a de-load week. However, if you are training hard, you need to give your muscles and CNS (central nervous system) a rest every once and a while. Ideally you should throw in a de-load week every 6–8 weeks of training depending on your intensity, and by de-load we mean workout at a lower intensity with lower weights. You could call it active recovery.
10. To make strength gains you need to incorporate progressive overload and switch up your workouts
If you’re about to graduate university and you’re still doing the same workouts as you were in first year, you probably aren’t seeing many gains. Although “muscle memory” is a bit of a fluffy term, it is true that your muscles adapt to certain movements at certain loads after a while, so it is important to mix things up!